Rhizosphere and Phyllosphere

Difference Between Rhizosphere and Phyllosphere

An Introduction to Rhizosphere and Phyllosphere

The main distinction between phyllosphere and rhizosphere lies in their roles; while rhizosphere refers to soil surrounding plant roots that is affected by root exudates and related microorganisms, phyllosphere refers to above-ground plant parts that serve as environments for microorganisms whereas both environments impact each other greatly.

Rhizosphere and phyllosphere are two regions inextricably tied to plants. Rhizosphere refers to soil surrounding roots of plants. This area relies heavily on exudates from these roots as well as their interactions with microbes residing there called roots microbiome. On the other hand, Phyllosphere refers to surface areas on which microorganisms reside on plants’ surfaces, providing shelter. Both microenvironments offer various functions for plants.


Rhizosphere refers to a tiny section of soil close to plant roots which serves as a home for various microbes and serves as their reservoir. Hiltner first coined this term “rhizosphere” back in 1904. Hiltner created three zones within his definition.

Figure-No-01: Rhizosphere

Endorhizosphere refers to the inner portion of the brain. This area comprises parts of epidermis and cortex where microorganisms resides apically in this apoplastic zone. F. E. Clark coined the term Rhizoplane; which refers to the outer surface of roots with their associated root hairs. Ectorhizoshere can be understood as the outermost layer, located just behind the epidermis that makes up its root system.

Plant roots produce exudates that contain various substances from within their root zone that influence microbial populations in this zone directly. As part of biodegradation of Rhizosphere processes, root-associated microbes help eliminate organic pollutants which have proven resistant to removal by their counterparts within root zones. This process known as Biodegradation of Rhizosphere can remove harmful pollutants that evade removal through biological means alone.

Rhizosphere serves as an environment in which microorganisms colonize. This microenvironment contains both anaerobic and aerobic organisms in proximity to plant roots.


Figure-No-02: Phyllosphere

Ruinen coined the term Phyllosphere to refer to these zones of living organisms within plants’ aerial parts – leaves, stems and flowers are home to different varieties of microorganisms that make up its ecosystems. Each part supports unique habitats for these microbes that comprise their respective microbe populations in 1961 as he coined his term for this environment called “Phyllosphere.”

Phylloplane leaves constitute most of a plant’s aerial surface, and those covered by bacteria serve as hosts to epiphytic communities that reside therein.

Caulosphere It refers to an area within a stem which promotes microbiota growth.

Anthosphere An anthosphere refers to the area around flowers which have become infiltrated with microorganisms, and this layer is colonized by microbes that colonize flowers as part of their ecosystem.

Carposphere A carposphere refers to the space around fruits where microorganisms live and thrive.

Epiphytes are colonists of the phyllosphere. Protozoa, algae, fungi and nematodes inhabiting leaves and stems may serve as epiphytes but bacteria tend to dominate this category of organisms.

Phyllosphere refers to an aerial part of plant or shoot systems and includes all surface-residing organisms within that layer; any microbiota found at or close by the phyllosphere surface make up its microbiome.

Difference Between Rhizosphere and Phyllosphere

There are a number of key distinctions between the Phyllosphere and Rhizosphere:

1. Location: Rhizosphere refers to the area surrounding a plant’s roots while the Phyllosphere Encompasses its upper portion consisting of stems leaves and flowers.

2. Microbial Communities: Microbial communities differ between phyllosphere and rhizosphere settings, with one having more high-activity microbes while bulk soil may contain different ones altogether. Meanwhile, phytosphere microbial communities contain epiphytic microorganisms living on plant surfaces.

3. Microorganism Composition: The microorganisms found within both phyllosphere and rhizosphere have distinct compositions; while in the former case fungi and bacteria dominate in terms of control over communities there, while for phyllosphere they include bacteria, yeasts and viruses as well.

4. Nutrition: Rhizosphere environments tend to be abundant with nutrients due to root exudates providing fuel and carbon sources for microorganisms living there, while in contrast the phyllosphere relies heavily on atmospheric deposition for nutrition provision.

5. Nutrient availability: Interactions Between Plants and Microbes The relationships between plants and their microbial communities vary considerably across both rhizosphere and phyllosphere environments, depending on where their roots grow.

Rhizosphere microbial communities could aid plant growth through fixing nitrogen, solubilizing phosphorus, producing hormones to spur their development or protecting from pathogens that might otherwise attack. While their counterparts in phyllosphere might protect plants against pathogens that threaten disease risk in other ways.

Understanding the differences between Rhizosphere and Phyllosphere are vital in comprehending the intricate interaction between plants and their microbiome, and aids in devising strategies to increase plant health and growth, or assist with creating biotechnological tools used in farming or environmental control.

Similarities between Rhizosphere and Phyllosphere

Though they differ significantly in many respects, both Rhizosphere and Phyllosphere share certain commonalities:

1. Diversity of Microorganisms: Both the phyllosphere and rhizosphere host numerous microbe communities that depend on plant species for sustenance as well as age and environmental conditions to thrive. These microbes contribute greatly to overall ecosystem function.

2. Microbial functions: Microorganisms in both rhizosphere and phyllosphere environments could play a similar role, including fixing nitrogen, dissolving phosphorus into solution and secreting growth hormones for plants.

3. Interactions Between Plants and Microbes: Interactions between plants and microbes abound and may prove both helpful and harmful for a given plant, with various interactions occurring throughout both rhizosphere and phyllosphere environments containing complex communities of bacteria that interact in ways beneficial or otherwise.

4. Relevance to plant health: Both the rhizosphere and phyllosphere play an essential part in determining overall plant health as well as productivity, so understanding their interaction is vital for devising strategies to boost overall plant health and increase growth.

Rhizosphere shares numerous characteristics with the phyllosphere. Both regions demonstrate how important it is to study interplay among plants and microbial communities within both regions, in addition to developing strategies that increase efficiency of agriculture while remaining environmentally-sustainable.


Rhizosphere refers to the area surrounding plant roots which contains microorganisms which feed off exudates from these roots, providing sustenance for them and encouraging plant growth with mycorrhizae or bacteria colonies.

Rhizosphere microorganisms help increase plant growth. Conversely, phyllosphere refers to an area above-ground on plants where microorganisms or epiphytes reside – for instance microbes found living within leaf excrement can live here too! Thus this differentiates rhizosphere and phyllosphere.

Both microbes provide benefits to plants; giving nutrients as well as controlling pathogens or improving resistance against diseases etc.